CLEVELAND (AP) — Three men who pleaded guilty in a plot to bomb a highway bridge should be sentenced as terrorists, making them subject to harsher prison terms, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
U.S. District Court Judge David Dowd's ruling upheld a government request to impose stricter sentences based on a "terrorist enhancement" for the trio. The ruling that the three were trying to intimidate the government expands their possible sentences from five or six years to 15 to 30 years or more.
The judge will sentence Connor Stevens, 20, of Berea; Brandon Baxter, 20, of Lakewood; and Douglas Wright, 26, of Indianapolis, on Tuesday in Akron.
The men were among five arrested in an FBI sting operation targeting a highway bridge over the Cuyahoga Valley National Park between Cleveland and Akron. The FBI has said the public was never in danger and the device was a dud provided by an informant.
The suspects were described by the government as self-proclaimed anarchists who acted out of anger against corporate America and the government.
Stevens, Baxter and Wright pleaded guilty to conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction, knowingly attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to damage property with explosives. There was no plea deal.
A fourth man who pleaded guilty first and agreed to testify against the others in return for leniency will be sentenced Wednesday. The fifth defendant is undergoing a psychiatric exam.